The next instalment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part, or want to see a certain place featured let me know!
In my mission a few years ago to visit all of Australia’s state capitals (I’m still looking at you Darwin) I went to Adelaide, and fell in love. It was May, and autumn colours showed off the city in all its glory. I was lucky enough to have a local show me around, and I came away thinking that Adelaide is definitely underrated. Honestly? I would move to Adelaide! There were so many things to do! That’s why I was so happy to be able to interview Domi from Expat Bug about her experiences as an expat living in Adelaide. If you’re moving to Australia, don’t discount this city! Just read below to find out why…
Tell us about yourself
I was bitten by the expat bug and made my first move to Brazil in 2010 when I was 20 years old. A 6-month stay to study and do an internship that changed my perspective of life. Since that experience, I told myself that I would continue stepping out of my comfort zone to experience new ways of living, new cultures and meet new people. I have lived in 4 countries and I have no intention of stopping my adventures!
Hi! Salut! My name is Domi, a Frenchie who moved to Australia 3 years ago. I come from a small city in France called Châteaudub. It is located about 2 hours away from Paris. I am the eldest from a family of 5. I am now glad to call OZ home and to say that I am going ‘on holidays’ to France.
What made you decide to move to Adelaide?
Moving to Adelaide was quite a sudden and quick decision I made. In 2013, I met the American guy who now has to cope with me every day. After dating for a few months, my J-1 visa ran out and I had to go back to France. Because we both enjoy travelling and changing adventures, we made a plan to be reunited in a third-party country.
After investigating which countries will fit both of our careers, our personalities and mother tongues, we decided to go to Australia. The perfect place for two lazy beach lovers. An easy transition in terms of language and culture shock.
Adelaide came up later to be our final destination when I was offered a 6-month contract at the Alliance Française d’Adelaide, a French organisation promoting French language and culture. Then, we started preparing both our moves from France and from the U.S. selling what we owned, getting our visas sorted out and working out all the necessary paperwork for our relocation overseas.
Don’t fear the decision of moving to a foreign country, it might change your life forever!
Tell me about the cost of living in Adelaide
Most people who live or visit Australia are aware of the high cost of living in Australia. This is due to a higher level of salaries. People are paid more to cover the cost of living.
One big expense is the rent. Be prepared to pay about $300 per week for a decent place. This is why house shares are really common for young people. The housing prices may seem outrageous. However, once you have a job, rent becomes part of your bill routine. Moreover, Adelaide rent prices are much lower compared to Sydney or Melbourne. For short-term travellers, simply use Airbnb, hostels, house sitting or house swap. Adelaide is frequented by tourists year round, thus there are many places to stay for every budget.
In terms of transportation, no big surprise! Public transport is easy and affordable. A bus ticket would only cost you $2 AUD. However, some buses only run once every hour if you need to go to remote suburb. One strength is the tram line connecting Adelaide CBD (centre city) to Glenelg, its beachside suburb.
If you are planning on hiring or buying a car, be aware of a few essential rules: drive on the left side, beware of kangaroos on backcountry roads and don’t mind the Aussie passive aggressive attitude. Car drivers might not pay close attention to pedestrians and bicyclists. Sometimes it may even feel that cars have complete priority over everyone else.
In general Adelaide is one of the cheapest big cities of Australia. Groceries would cost you about $90 for a month worth of food and other goods. Milk is only $2 AUD for a 2 litre bottle ; a beer at a liquor store is $4-$5 AUD compared to $8-$12 AUD at a bar or a pub. A tasty loaf of organic bread can cost up to $8 when off-brand sliced white bread is only $0.85 AUD.
How did you find the job seeking process?
Finding a full-time position has been a long journey for me. Once my 6-month contract with the Alliance Française d’Adelaide was over, I entered a long unemployment and active job seeking period.
From door-to-door sale representative, magazine distributor to waitress at an ice cream shop and a bakery, I was persistent in finding a real job. About six months later, I got an interview for an admin position at the Australian Institute of Business My perseverance paid off when they offered me my first full-time job in Australia.
I found the job seeking process as difficult as anywhere else. However, I was surprised when my partner who is American and a native English-speaker also had difficulties in getting positive answers. We found out that some Adelaidean employers like that candidates have previous experience in a local business and/or an Australian degree. Fair enough, but we needed a first chance in order to get that local work experience.
In other words, finding a job in Adelaide should be quite an easy task for everyone. If I could give a few pieces of advice to myself, I would say:
● Get your resume and cover letter translated into Australian standards
● Register with local recruitment agencies such as Entree, Hudsons and Hays
● Check Gumtree for temporary or backpacker jobs on a daily basis
● Have a walk around your neighbourhood and watch out for recruitment signs
● Chat with locals. You never know, their business might have a recent vacancy that could fit your profile!
Do you need a visa to live in Adelaide?
You absolutely need a visa to travel to or live in Adelaide. Visitor or tourist visas are required for travellers. Easy to get and affordable, simply visit the Australian Immigration Office website.
If you want to work for a little while there, the simplest way is to get a Working Holiday Visa (WHV). Note that this visa is only allowed to young people up to 30 years old. You can work while travelling around the country up to 1 year. Employment is limited to 6 months with the same employer though. The process is really simple and fast.
For those who are looking for a long-term stay in Adelaide aka relocating there, there are more to consider. Permanent residency can take years to get. Make sure to be well informed of your best option of visa, the required documentation and its cost. The online application makes the process way easier.
What’s the social scene like? How easy is it to make friends?
Adelaide has a diverse and cool social scene. There are so many unique cafes that serve great brekkies – that’s how they say breakfast in Straya! My favourite spots in the CBD are Hey Jupiter and Bambi’s Kitchen; in Glenelg the best are Pure Boutique Cafe and Zest Cafe Gallery.
The nightlife is not as extensive as in Melbourne or Sydney, but Adelaide is packed with fantastic bars and pubs. Rest assured, you are going to have a good time in Adelaide. Do not miss out on the little gem Maybe Mae, a bar hidden behind a secret wood door; Hain’s & Co for their cheese platter and marine interior design and La Buvette Drinkery to fix your French food & wine craving. When visiting Glenelg, make sure to go to The Moseley Bar & Kitchen and The Sunset Bar.
Nowadays, making friends is not a challenge anymore. There are so many websites, apps, associations, clubs and groups that allow you to find people with similar interests. Australians are generally easy-going. However, I found Adelaideans to be a little bit cliquey. Some tend to be closed off to outsiders sometimes or not interested in extending their group of friends. Most of the time they hang out with the same people they met in high school or Uni.
Find interesting people by visiting meetups, joining an association or club, signing up to travel apps such as Travelstoke, Backpackr, CouchSurfing or Wandermates for instance.
What’s the best thing about living in Adelaide?
The most wonderful thing about living in Adelaide is its extensive range of activities for every type of traveller or expat. Do you enjoy laying down on the beach? Spend your day at one of the beautiful beaches that South Australia has to offer. Do you enjoy hiking in dense forests or on desertic mountains? The state of South Australia is full of national parks including the impressive Flinders Ranges where you can go camping in the bush. Do you like trying out local cuisine? Visit Adelaide’s wineries or go on a guided foodie tour. Do you see what I mean? The list has something for everyone!
What’s the hardest thing about living in Adelaide?
Living in Adelaide has been a great expat experience. If I had to name one difficult thing, it would be getting permanent residency for me. My Partner Visa is still being assessed by the Immigration department after having been a temporary resident for 2 years.
My advice would be to research as much as possible about visa requirements and costs before you take the decision to move to Adelaide.
Also, I would add that living in Australia in general is tough when it comes to going back to France. An expensive and long flight to see your family and friends.
How is your new home different from your old one?
I’ve lived in two different places in Adelaide. First, my partner and I lived in a residential area in the South of Adelaide CBD. We found it to be too quiet for the young and active expats we are. So we moved closer to the beach in a cute little unit in Glenelg. This home is 100 times better in the sense that it fits more our personalities.
Adelaide way of life is not so far from what I was used to back in France. The culture shock was quite minimal. The only thing that clearly surprised me was their way of dealing with conflict. French people are well-known for being frank, even blunt; they usually don’t beat around the bush. On the contrary, Australians would not really say “no” or tell you if they disagree in order to avoid conflicts. I had to adapt to this cultural behavior which I was not used to.
If we had just one day in Adelaide what should we not miss?
Visiting Adelaide just for one day gives you a good first idea of how South Australia is awesome!
If I was a backpacker, I would not miss going stand up paddle boarding at Seacliff beach or canoeing ; then, going out on Hindley street at night.
If I was travelling with partner, I would not miss spending a day walking along the Marion Coastal Walking Trail. Then stop at a beach nearby (Marino, Brighton, Seacliff) a picnic or use the electric bbq there. Then, head to Sammy’s seafood restaurant for a seafood platter and some local wine.
If I was travelling with my family, I would not miss visiting the Barossa Valley. Make sure to do the Cheese & Wine Trail. Bring along a cheese platter to each cellar door you visit and pair the cheeses with their wines.
Can you share your best local/insider tip about where you live?
I would highly recommend moving to Glenelg Beach, or any beachside city actually – Henley Beach, Brighton Beach…. Then, it depends on your needs. Living in the Adelaide CBD may be a bit pricey, but it’s very convenient if you work in the CBD. The Eastern suburbs (Norwood, Magill…) are cheaper and a favourite of families. The Southern (Unley, Goodwood…) suburbs host some hipster places. The Northern suburbs (Elizabeth, Salisbury…) are usually less recommended due to bad reputation and being a longer train ride into the CBD.
If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to move to Adelaide what would it be?
If you wish to move to and live in Adelaide, go for it! The lifestyle there is great. There are so many things to do and for every budget. I have completely adapted to a new daily life here.
In conclusion, a short warning: you might get bored of seeing beautiful kilometre-long beaches of crystal clear water and pure white sand. It is a risk to take!
Have you been to Adelaide? Would you move to Australia?